Roger Jason Stone (born Roger Joseph Stone Jr.; August 27, 1952) is an American conservative political consultant, lobbyist and convicted felon. In November 2019, subsequent to the Mueller report and Special Counsel investigation, he was convicted on seven counts, including witness tampering and lying to investigators. On February 20, 2020, he was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison. The sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump on July 10, 2020.
Stone was born on August 27, 1952, in Norwalk, Connecticut, to Gloria Rose (Corbo) and Roger J. Stone. He grew up in Lewisboro, New York. His mother was a small-town reporter, his father a well driller and business owner. He has described his family as middle-class, blue-collar Catholics.
Stone said that as an elementary school student in 1960, he broke into politics to further John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign: "I remember going through the cafeteria line and telling every kid that Nixon was in favor of school on Saturdays ... It was my first political trick."
Stone, the "keeper of the Nixon flame", was an adviser to the former President in his post-presidential years, serving as "Nixon's man in Washington". Stone was a protégé of former Connecticut Governor John Davis Lodge, who introduced the young Stone to former Vice President Nixon in 1967. After Stone was indicted in 2019, the Nixon Foundation released a statement distancing Stone's ties to Nixon. John Sears recruited Stone to work in Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign, coordinating the Northeast. Stone said that Roy Cohn helped him arrange for John B. Anderson to get the nomination of the Liberal Party of New York, a move that would help split the opposition to Reagan in the state. Stone said Cohn gave him a suitcase that Stone avoided opening and that, as instructed by Cohn, he dropped off at the office of a lawyer influential in Liberal Party circles. Reagan carried the state with 46% of the vote. Speaking after the statute of limitations for bribery had expired, Stone later said, "I paid his law firm. Legal fees. I don't know what he did for the money, but whatever it was, the Liberal party reached its right conclusion out of a matter of principle."
As a student at George Washington University in 1972, Stone invited Jeb Magruder to speak at a Young Republicans Club meeting, then asked Magruder for a job with Richard Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President. Magruder agreed and Stone then left college to work for the committee.
In the 1990s, Stone and Manafort sold their business. Although their careers went in different directions, their relationship remained close. Stone married his first wife Anne Elizabeth Wesche in 1974. Using the name Ann E.W. Stone, she founded the group Republicans for Choice in 1989. They divorced in 1990.
In 1975, Stone helped found the National Conservative Political Action Committee, a New Right organization that helped to pioneer independent expenditure political advertising.
In 1976, he worked in Ronald Reagan's campaign for U.S. President. In 1977, at age 24, Stone won the presidency of the Young Republicans in a campaign managed by his friend Paul Manafort; they had compiled a dossier on each of the 800 delegates that gathered, which they called "whip books".
In 1980, after their key roles in the Reagan campaign, Stone and Manafort decided to go into business together, with partner Charlie Black, creating a political consulting and lobbying firm to cash in on their relationships within the new administration. Black, Manafort & Stone (BMS), became one of Washington D.C.'s first mega-lobbying firms and was described as instrumental to the success of Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign. Republican political strategist Lee Atwater joined the firm in 1985, after serving in the #2 position on Reagan-Bush 1984.
Since the 1970s, Stone worked on the campaigns of Republican politicians Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. In addition to frequently serving as a campaign adviser, Stone was previously a political lobbyist. In 1980, he co-founded a Washington, D.C.–based lobbying firm with Paul Manafort and Charles R. Black Jr. The firm recruited Peter G. Kelly and was renamed Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly in 1984. During the 1980s, BMSK became a top lobbying firm by leveraging its White House connections to attract high-paying clients including U.S. corporations and trade associations, as well as foreign governments. By 1990, it was one of the leading lobbyists for American companies and foreign organizations.
Stone went on to serve as chief strategist for Thomas Kean's campaign for Governor of New Jersey in 1981 and for his reelection campaign in 1985.
In 1987 and 1988, Stone served as senior adviser to Jack Kemp's presidential campaign, which was managed by consulting partner Charlie Black. In that same election, his other partners worked for George H. W. Bush (Lee Atwater as campaign manager, and Paul Manafort as director of operations in the fall campaign).
In April 1992, Time alleged that Stone was involved with the controversial Willie Horton advertisements to aid George H. W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign, which were targeted against Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis. Stone has said that he urged Lee Atwater not to include Horton in the ad. Stone denied making or distributing the advertisement, and said it was Atwater's doing.
In 1995, Stone was the president of Republican Senator Arlen Specter's campaign for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination. Specter withdrew early in the campaign season with less than 2% support.
A longtime friend of Donald Trump, Stone has been variously described as a "self-proclaimed dirty trickster", a "renowned infighter", a "seasoned practitioner of hard-edged politics", a "mendacious windbag", a "veteran Republican strategist", and a political fixer. Over the course of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, Stone promoted a number of falsehoods and conspiracy theories. He has described his political modus operandi as "Attack, attack, attack – never defend" and "Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack." Stone first suggested Trump run for president in early 1998 while he was Trump's casino business lobbyist in Washington. The Netflix documentary film Get Me Roger Stone focuses on Stone's past and his role in Trump's presidential campaign.
In 2017, Stone was the subject of a Netflix documentary film, titled Get Me Roger Stone, which focuses on his past and on his role in the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Stone first suggested Trump run for President in early 1998 while Stone was Trump's casino business lobbyist in Washington.
In 1999, Stone credited his facial appearance to "decades of following a regimen of Chinese herbs, breathing therapies, tai chi, and acupuncture." Stone wears a diamond pinkie ring in the shape of a horseshoe and in 2007 he had Richard M. Nixon's face tattooed on his back. He has said: "I like English tailoring, I like Italian shoes. I like French wine. I like vodka martinis with an olive, please. I like to keep physically fit." Stone's office in Florida has been described as a "Hall of Nixonia" with framed pictures, posters, and letters associated with Nixon.
In 2000, Stone served as campaign manager of Donald Trump's aborted campaign for President in the Reform Party primary. Investigative journalist Wayne Barrett accused Stone of persuading Trump to publicly consider a run for the Reform nomination to sideline Pat Buchanan and sabotage the Reform Party in an attempt to lower their vote total to benefit George W. Bush.
In 2002, Stone was associated with the campaign of businessman Thomas Golisano for governor of New York State.
After Trump had been criticized at the Democratic National Convention for his comments on Muslims by Khizr Khan, a Pakistani American whose son received a posthumous Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, Stone made headlines defending Trump's criticism by accusing Khan of sympathizing with the enemy.
Given a copy of Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative, Stone became a convert to conservatism as a child and a volunteer in Goldwater's 1964 campaign. In 2007, Stone indicated he was a staunch conservative but with libertarian leanings.
In 2007, Stone, a top adviser at the time to Joseph Bruno (the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate), was forced to resign by Bruno after allegations that Stone had threatened Bernard Spitzer, the then-83-year-old father of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer. On August 6, 2007, an expletive-laced message was left on the elder Spitzer's answering machine threatening to prosecute the elderly man if he did not implicate his son in wrongdoing. Bernard Spitzer hired a private detective agency that traced the call to the phone of Roger Stone's wife. Roger Stone denied leaving the message, despite the fact that his voice was recognized, claiming he was at a movie that was later shown not to have been screened that night. Stone was accused on an episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews on August 22, 2007, of being the voice on an expletive-laden voicemail threatening Bernard Spitzer, father of Eliot, with subpoenas. Donald Trump is quoted as saying of the incident, "They caught Roger red-handed, lying. What he did was ridiculous and stupid."
In February 2010, Stone became campaign manager for Kristin Davis, a madam linked with the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, in her bid for the Libertarian Party nomination for governor of New York in the 2010 election. Stone said that the campaign "is not a hoax, a prank or a publicity stunt. I want to get her a half-million votes." However, he later was spotted at a campaign rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, of whom Stone has spoken favorably. Stone admittedly had been providing support and advice to both campaigns on the grounds that the two campaigns had different goals: Davis was seeking to gain permanent ballot access for her party, and Paladino was in the race to win (and was Stone's preferred candidate). As such, Stone did not believe he had a conflict of interest in supporting both candidates. While working for the Davis campaign, Warren Redlich, the Libertarian nominee for Governor, alleged that Stone collaborated with a group entitled "People for a Safer New York" to send a flyer labeling Redlich a "sexual predator" and "sick, twisted pervert" based on a blog post Redlich had made in 2008. Redlich later sued Stone in a New York court for defamation over the flyers, and sought $20 million in damages. However, the jury in the case returned a verdict in favor of Stone in December 2017, finding that Redlich failed to prove Stone was involved with the flyers.
Stone is featured in Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, documentary on Lee Atwater made in 2008. He also was featured in Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, the 2010 documentary of the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.
In January 2008, Stone founded Citizens United Not Timid, an anti-Hillary Clinton 527 group with an intentionally obscene acronym.
Stone volunteered as an unpaid adviser to comedian Steve Berke ("a libertarian member of his so-called After Party") in his 2011 campaign for mayor of Miami Beach, Florida in 2012. Berke lost the race to incumbent Mayor Matti Herrera Bower.
In February 2012, Stone said that he had changed his party affiliation from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party. Stone predicted a "Libertarian moment" in 2016 and the end of the Republican party.
In June 2012, Stone said that he was running a super PAC in support of former New Mexico governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, whom he had met at a Reason magazine Christmas party two years earlier. Stone told the Huffington Post that Johnson had a real role to play, although "I have no allusions [sic] of him winning."
Stone considered running as a Libertarian candidate for governor of Florida in 2014, but in May 2013 said in a statement that he would not run, and that he wanted to devote himself to campaigning in support of a 2014 constitutional amendment on the Florida ballot to legalize medical marijuana.
Stone officially left the Trump campaign on August 8, 2015; however, two associates of Stone have said he collaborated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign to discredit Hillary Clinton. Stone and Assange have denied these claims. Nearly three-dozen search warrants were unsealed in April 2020 which revealed a web of contacts between Stone, Assange, and other key 2016 Russian interference figures, and that Stone orchestrated hundreds of fake Facebook accounts and bloggers to run a political influence scheme on social media. On January 25, 2019, Stone was arrested at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home in connection with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation and charged in an indictment with witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and five counts of making false statements. Stone was convicted on all seven felony counts in November 2019 and was sentenced to 40 months in prison. On July 10, 2020, days before he was scheduled to report to federal prison, Trump commuted Stone's sentence.
Stone served as an adviser to the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Stone left the campaign on August 8, 2015, amid controversy, with Stone claiming he quit and Trump claiming that Stone was fired. Despite this, Stone still supported Trump. A few days later, Stone wrote an op-ed called "The man who just resigned from Donald Trump's campaign explains how Trump can still win" for Business Insider.
Despite calling Stone a "stone-cold loser" in a 2008 interview and accusing him of seeking too much publicity in a statement shortly after Stone left the campaign, Donald Trump praised him during an appearance in December 2015 on Alex Jones' radio show that was orchestrated by Stone. "Roger's a good guy," Trump said. "He's been so loyal and so wonderful." Stone remained an informal adviser to and media surrogate for Trump throughout the campaign.
During the course of the 2016 campaign, Stone was banned from appearing on CNN and MSNBC after making a series of offensive Twitter posts disparaging television personalities. Stone specifically referred to a CNN commentator as an "entitled diva bitch" and imagined her "killing herself", and called another CNN personality a "stupid negro" and a "fat negro". Erik Wemple, media writer for The Washington Post, described Stone's tweets as "nasty" and "bigoted". In February 2016, CNN said that it would no longer invite Stone to appear on its network, and MSNBC followed suit, confirming in April 2016, that Stone had also been banned from that network. In a June 2016 appearance on On Point, Stone told Tom Ashbrook: "I would have to admit that calling Roland Martin a 'fat negro' was a two-martini tweet, and I regret that. As for my criticism of Ana Navarro not being qualified ... I don't understand why she's there, given her lack of qualifications."
In March 2016, an article in the tabloid magazine National Enquirer stated that Ted Cruz, Trump's Republican primary rival, had extramarital affairs with five women. The article quoted Stone as saying, "These stories have been swirling about Cruz for some time. I believe where there is smoke there is fire." Cruz denied the allegations (calling it "garbage" and a "tabloid smear") and accused the Trump campaign, and Stone specifically, of planting the story as part of an orchestrated smear campaign against him. Cruz stated, "It is a story that quoted one source on the record, Roger Stone, Donald Trump's chief political adviser. And I would note that Mr. Stone is a man who has 50 years of dirty tricks behind him. He's a man for whom a term was coined for copulating with a rodent." In April 2016, Cruz again criticized Stone, saying on Sean Hannity's radio show of Stone: "He is pulling the strings on Donald Trump. He planned the Trump campaign, and he is Trump's henchman and dirty trickster. And this pattern, Donald keeps associating himself with people who encourage violence." Stone responded by comparing Cruz to Richard Nixon and accusing him of being a liar.
In April 2016, Stone formed a pro-Trump activist group, Stop the Steal, and threatened "Days of Rage" if Republican party leaders tried to deny the nomination to Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The Washington Post reported that Stone "is organizing [Trump] supporters as a force of intimidation", noting that Stone "has ... threatened to publicly disclose the hotel room numbers of delegates who work against Trump". Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that Stone's threat to publicize the hotel room numbers of delegates was "just totally over the line".
Stone's trial began on November 6, 2019. Randy Credico testified that Stone urged and threatened him to prevent him testifying to Congress. Stone had testified to Congress that Credico was his WikiLeaks go-between, but prosecutors said this was a lie in order to protect Jerome Corsi. During the November 12 testimony, former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates testified that Stone told campaign associates in April 2016 of WikiLeaks' plans to release documents, far earlier than previously known. Gates also testified that Trump had spoken with Stone about the forthcoming releases. After a week-long trial and two days of deliberations, the jury convicted Stone on all counts – obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering – on November 15, 2019. After the trial, one of the jurors emphasized that the jury did not convict Stone based on his political beliefs. On November 25, a decision denying a defense motion for acquittal was released. The judge wrote that the testimony of Steven Bannon and Rick Gates was sufficient to conclude that Stone lied to Congress.
On January 25, 2019, in a pre-dawn raid by 29 FBI agents acting on both an arrest warrant and a search warrant at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home, Stone was arrested on seven criminal charges of an indictment in the Mueller investigation: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. The same day, a federal magistrate judge released Stone on a US$250,000 signature bond and declared that he was not a flight risk. Stone said he would fight the charges, which he called politically motivated, and would refuse to “bear false witness" against Trump. He called Robert Mueller a "rogue prosecutor". In the charging document, prosecutors alleged that after the first WikiLeaks release of hacked DNC emails in July 2016, a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and determine what other damaging information WikiLeaks had regarding the Clinton campaign. Stone thereafter told the Trump campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by WikiLeaks, the indictment alleged. The indictment also alleged that Stone had discussed WikiLeaks releases with multiple senior Trump campaign officials.
During the 2016 campaign, Stone was accused by Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta of having prior knowledge of the publishing by WikiLeaks of Podesta's private emails obtained by a hacker. Stone tweeted before the leak, "It will soon [sic] the Podesta's time in the barrel". Five days before the leak, Stone tweeted, "Wednesday Hillary Clinton is done. #Wikileaks." Stone has denied having any advance knowledge of the Podesta email hack or any connection to Russian intelligence, stating that his earlier tweet was referring to reports of the Podesta Group's own ties to Russia. In his opening statement before the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on September 26, 2017, Stone reiterated this claim: "Note that my tweet of August 21, 2016, makes no mention, whatsoever, of Mr. Podesta's email, but does accurately predict that the Podesta brothers' business activities in Russia ... would come under public scrutiny."
On March 13, 2018, two sources close to Stone, former Trump aide Sam Nunberg and a person speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged to The Washington Post that Stone had established contact with WikiLeaks owner Julian Assange and that the two had a telephone conversation discussing emails related to the Clinton campaign which had been leaked to WikiLeaks. According to Nunberg, who claimed he spoke to the paper after being asked to do so by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Stone joked to him that he had taken a trip to London to personally meet with Assange, but declined to do so, had only wanted to have telephone conversations to remain undetected and did not have advance notice of the leaked emails. The other source, who spoke on anonymity, stated that the conversation occurred before it was publicly known that hackers had obtained the emails of Podesta and of the Democratic National Committee, documents that WikiLeaks released in July and October 2016. Stone afterwards denied that he had contacted Assange or had known in advance about the leaked emails.
In February 2017, The New York Times reported that as part of its investigation into the Trump campaign, the FBI was looking into any contacts Stone may have had with Russian operatives. The following month, The Washington Times reported that Stone had direct-messaged alleged DNC hacker Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter. Stone acknowledged contacts with the mysterious persona and made public excerpts of the messages. Stone said the messages were just innocent praise of the hacking. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Guccifer 2.0 to be a persona created by Russian intelligence to obscure its role in the DNC hack. The Guccifer 2.0 persona was ultimately linked with an IP address associated with the Russian intelligence agency, GRU, in Moscow when a user with a Moscow IP address logged into one of the Guccifer social media accounts without using a VPN.
In March 2017, the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Stone to preserve all documents related to any Russian contacts. The Committee Vice Chair, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), called on Stone to testify before the committee, saying he "hit the trifecta" of shady dealings with Russia. Stone denied any wrongdoing in an interview on Real Time with Bill Maher on March 31, 2017, and said he was willing to testify before the committee.
Stone called Saudi Arabia "an enemy" and criticized Trump's visit to Riyadh in May 2017. He suggested that the Saudi government or members of the Saudi royal family directly supported or financed the September 11 attacks, tweeting that "Instead of meeting with the Saudis @realDonaldTrump should be demanding they pay for the attack on America on 9/11 which they financed."
On September 26, 2017, Stone testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors. He also provided a statement to the Committee and the press. The Washington Post annotated Stone's statement by noting his affiliations with InfoWars, Breitbart, and Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories promulgator, Jerome Corsi. Stone also made personal attacks on Democratic committee members Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell and Dennis Heck.
On October 28, 2017, following a news report by CNN that indictments would be announced within a few days, Stone's Twitter account was suspended by Twitter for what it called "targeted abuse" of various CNN personnel in a series of derogatory, threatening and obscenity-filled tweets.
On December 1, 2017, Stone texted Randy Credico, a prosecution witness: "If you testify you're a fool. Because of tromp (sic), I could never get away with a certain (sic) my Fifth Amendment rights but you can. I guarantee you you (sic) are the one who gets indicted for perjury if you're stupid enough to testify." According to his indictment, page 20, on April 9, 2018, Stone emailed these threats to the witness, including a comment regarding his security dog that he would: "...take that dog away from you," "You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds." "I am so ready. Let's get it on. Prepare to die cock sucker." In a May 21, 2018 email, Stone wrote: "You are so full of shit. You got nothing. Keep running your mouth and I'll file a bar complaint against your friend."
In a December 2017 interview with the Florida television station WBBH-TV, following the sentencing of Michael Cohen, Stone said that Cohen shouldn't have lied under oath, and Cohen was a "rat" because he turned on the president, something that Stone said he would never do.
In May 2018, Stone's social media consultant, Jason Sullivan, was issued grand jury subpoenas from the Mueller investigation.
On July 3, 2018, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle dismissed a lawsuit brought by political activist group Protect Democracy, alleging that Trump's campaign and Stone conspired with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential election race. The judge found that the suit was brought in the wrong jurisdiction. The next week, Stone was identified by two government officials as the anonymous person mentioned in the indictment released by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that charged twelve Russian military intelligence officials with conspiring to interfere in the 2016 elections, as somebody the Russian hackers operating the online persona Guccifer 2.0 communicated with, and who the indictment alleged was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign.
During the campaign, Stone frequently promoted conspiracy theories, including the false claim that Clinton aide Huma Abedin was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. In December 2018, as part of a defamation settlement, Stone agreed to retract a false claim he had made during the campaign: that Guo Wengui had donated to Hillary Clinton.
In early 2018, ahead of an appearance at the annual Republican Dorchester Conference in Salem, Oregon, Stone sought out the Proud Boys, a right-wing group known for street violence, to act as his "security" for the event; photos posted online showed Stone drinking with several Proud Boys. After his arraignment at the Miami federal courthouse in January 2019, they joined him on its steps holding signs that said, "Roger Stone is innocent," and promoting right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars website. Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes said Stone was “one of the three approved media figures allowed to speak” about the group. When Stone was asked by a local reporter about the Proud Boys' claim that he had been initiated as a member of the group, he responded by calling the reporter a member of the Communist party. He is particularly close to the group's current leader, Enrique Tarrio, who has commercially monetized his position. At a televised Trump rally in Miami, Florida, on February 18, 2019, Tarrio was seated directly behind President Trump wearing a "Roger stone did nothing wrong" tee shirt.
Stone repeatedly acknowledged that he had established a back-channel with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to obtain information on Hillary Clinton and pointed to this intermediary as the source for his advance knowledge about the release of Podesta's e-mails by WikiLeaks. Stone ultimately named Randy Credico, who had interviewed both Assange and Stone for a radio show, as his intermediary with Assange. A January 2019 indictment claimed Stone communicated with additional contacts knowledgeable about WikiLeaks plans.
On February 18, 2019, Stone posted on Instagram a photo of the federal judge overseeing his case, Amy Berman Jackson, with what resembled rifle scope crosshairs next to her head. Later that day, Stone filed an apology with the court. Jackson then imposed a full gag order on Stone, citing her belief that Stone would "pose a danger" to others without the order.
On February 11, 2020 – the same day the four Stone prosecutors withdrew from the case after the Justice Department intervened in the sentencing recommendation – Trump withdrew the nomination of Jessie K. Liu, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, to become an Under Secretary of the Treasury, two days before her scheduled confirmation hearing. As U.S. attorney, Liu had overseen some ancillary cases referred by the Mueller investigation including the Stone prosecution, as well as a politically charged case involving former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, until attorney general Barr replaced her with his close advisor Shea in January 2020. CNN reported the next day that Liu's nomination was withdrawn because she was perceived to be insufficiently involved in the Stone and McCabe cases.
On February 10, 2020, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia requested that Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison for his crimes after securing convictions on all seven charges. Around midnight, Trump characterized the sentencing recommendation as "horrible and very unfair situation" in tweeted, "Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!" The next morning a senior Justice Department official said the department would recommend a lighter sentence, adding that the decision had been made before Trump commented. That afternoon the Department of Justice filed a revised sentencing memorandum, saying the initial recommendation could be "considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances." All four of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who were prosecuting the case – Jonathan Kravis, Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed and Michael Marando – withdrew from the case, and Kravis resigned from the U.S. Attorney's Office altogether. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the Department of Justice Inspector General requesting a probe into the reduced sentencing recommendation, over fears of potential improper political interference in the process. Trump later said he had not asked the Justice Department to recommend a lighter sentence, but also asserted he had an "absolute right" to intervene. The next day he praised U.S. Attorney General William Barr for "taking charge" of the case and thanked Justice Department officials for recommending a lesser sentence than was proposed by the prosecutors who tried the case.
On February 20, 2020, Judge Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in federal prison and a $20,000 fine for his crimes, but allowed him to delay the start of his sentence pending resolution of Stone's post-trial motions. Jackson stated in the sentencing hearing, "The truth still exists. The truth still matters [in spite of] Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't [pose] a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the very foundation of our democracy." Jackson also rejected Trump's attacks on the investigators and prosecutors, saying, "There was nothing unfair, phony, or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution." Jackson said "Roger Stone will not be sentenced for who his friends are, or who his enemies are."
On February 23, 2020, Judge Jackson rejected a request by Stone's lawyers that she be removed from the case.
On July 10, 2020, Trump commuted Stone's sentence a few days before he was to report to prison. Trump personally called Stone to inform him that his sentence was being commuted. In a lengthy statement containing an array of grievances, Trump attacked the prosecutors as "overzealous" and said, "Roger Stone has already suffered greatly. He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!" The Trump White House statement contained multiple false statements and baseless claims regarding Stone's prosecution and the Mueller investigation. The commutation was announced late on a Friday evening, a common time for the release of prospectively damaging news. Stone's commutation followed a number of occasions in which Trump granted executive clemency to his supporters or political allies, or following personal appeals or campaigns in conservative media, as in the cases of Rod Blagojevich, Michael Milken, Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D'Souza, and Clint Lorance, as well as Bernard Kerik. Trump's grant of clemency to Stone, however, marked "the first figure directly connected to the president's campaign to benefit from his clemency power." On July 15, 2020, counsel for two constitutional law professors sought leave of Judge Jackson to file an amicus brief addressing whether the commutation "may not be constitutionally valid". Judge Jackson denied their motion on July 30, saying that the matter was no longer in her court, so she lacked jurisdiction.
The politicization of Stone's sentencing by Trump and senior Trump administration officials at the Justice Department caused controversy and prompted allegations of political interference; the Justice Department's unusual decision to overrule the prosecutors on the case, as well as Stone's close association with Donald Trump, led to the affair being described as a crisis in the rule of law in the U.S. More than 2,000 former employees of the Department of Justice signed an open letter calling on Barr to resign, and the Federal Judges Association convened an emergency meeting on the matter. In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Zelinsky, one of the prosecutors who withdrew from the case after the Justice Department intervened to recommend a lighter sentence for Stone, said that the "highest levels" of Justice Department had been "exerting significant pressure" on prosecutors "to cut Stone a break" and "water down and in some cases outright distort" Stone's conduct. Zelinsky testified, "What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president." Zelinsky also testified that acting U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea made the request for a lighter sentence for Stone after coming under "heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice" and out of fear of Trump. Zelinsky testified that in his career as a prosecutor, United States v. Roger Stone was the sole occasion in which he witnessed "political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making," and that he opted to resign from the case and his temporary appointment in the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. "rather than be associated with the Department of Justice's actions at sentencing. Former Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted, "do not underestimate the danger of this situation: the political appointees in the DOJ are involving themselves in an inappropriate way in cases involving political allies of the President"; former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub tweeted, "a corrupt authoritarian and his henchmen are wielding the Justice Department as a shield for friends and a sword for political rivals. It is impossible to overstate the danger." Channing D. Phillips, who previously served as U.S. Attorney for D.C., said that the events were "deeply troubling" and that the withdrawal of all four line prosecutors suggested "undue meddling by higher ups at DOJ or elsewhere." CNN reported that other prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C. had discussed resigning over the matter. The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors around the nation – already leery of taking cases that might catch Trump's attention – had become increasingly concerned after the Stone developments. In late June, Attorney General Barr agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing on July 28, 2020, which would be Barr's first congressional testimony since his confirmation in early 2019. Barr agreed to appear before the committee one day after Chairman Jerry Nadler said he would issue a subpoena to compel Barr's testimony if he did not appear voluntarily.